Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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The Door Within
by Wayne Thomas Batson

Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

"...a creatively written allegory."

Life hasn’t been so great for Aidan Thomas. His parents never asked him if he wanted to move – like typical parents, they just decided to, whether he agreed or not. Secondly, moving away also meant leaving Robby; Aidan best friend. Robby is everything Aidan isn’t: funny, athletic, popular - with him as a friend, at least people noticed Aidan instead of ignoring him.

To make matters worse, they’ve moved in with his grandfather – Grampin – because his worsening health. The prospects of living with his eighty-year old grandfather thousands of miles away from Robby are dim, and with nowhere to fit in and no friends, things look grim indeed.

Strange things start happening, though – Aidan is plagued with dreams of another world, and he swears he’s seen things lurking in the trees outside the house. His parents – average, boring adults – discount his stories as a “good imagination”, but Aidan knows it’s more than that. Something is happening, something is coming.

One day, Aidan ventures to the basement, hoping to find anything interesting, when that something he’s been waiting for finally happens. In a lightstorm of spectral blue light, three earthen clay pots appear. Hoping for treasure: diamonds, rubies, or gold coins; Aidan tries to open them, but when he touches the pots, they shatter – revealing three ancient scrolls.

Aidan unties them, expecting to find nothing more than an entertaining fantasy – but instead, his life changes – forever. He’s whisked away into another world ruled by the great, everlasting King Eliam. It’s a land of peace and prosperity, threatened by the evil realm of Paragory, led by Paragor – former trusted herald of King Eliam turned traitor, now the greatest evil in all The Realm. Aidan is plunged into a generations-long conflict, as he embarks on a journey testing not only his heart and will, but also his soul.

The Door Within, the first of the Door Within Trilogy, by Wayne Thomas Baston, is an enjoyable work playing off the most classic fantasy elements – an average boy, undervalued in the “real” world is called to a magical realm where he discovers what he’s really made of. The plotline is best suited for early teens, with more depth than contemporary novelist R.K. Mortenson’s Landon Snow series. The Realm is more grown-up and hazardous than Landon Snow’s Wonderwood, a lot like Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It’s not hard to see reflections of Mordor in Paragory, as well.

There are some decent surprises built into the characters – both worlds are “mirror” worlds, with corresponding doubles in each, which reminded me of a youth-friendly The Talisman, by Stephen King. Best of all, for the most part, this is a creatively written allegory, a lot like C.S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia, and Baston parlays Biblical lore into the story deftly, accurately, and convincingly.

This is a great book that promises much for the rest of the series. The Door Within leaves you anxiously awaiting its sequel, The Rise of the Wyrm Lord, as well as wondering just who will be called by King Eliam next – just like in Narnia, a person’s service in The Realm is limited. After Aiden’s time of glory has passed – who will be called next.

Kevin LuciaKevin Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun Bulletin and The Relief Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened Horizons Vol. 3 & 4, NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus Tales Magazine, Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations, and Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s currently writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and Myspace page.